Most people don’t think of acupuncture when they’re suffering a loss or going through a difficult time in their lives. It can, however,
be immensely helpful through the grieving process. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), strong emotions can directly affect the organs, qi (energy) and
blood. They may also aggravate existing diseases. Prolonged periods of sadness or grief can ultimately consume qi, compromise the lung energy and consequently
weaken the immune system. The lungs are particularly vulnerable during the fall when the air is very dry. Severe emotional states like grief may also injure
the heart’s qi, which in turn can disrupt the health and harmony of other vital organs.
Many things can cause grief: obviously the death of a loved one is an example, but so is the loss of a pet, a relationship, a job, or any
event or situation that brings about deep sorrow. Grief as a symptom is not often talked about- but it’s really a state of being, and it’s a process to go
through. It can be agonizing, debilitating and disruptive to a person’s life and can lead to chronic depression, so it absolutely must be addressed head-on.
People sometimes attempt to suppress their emotions or try to avoid them, but the energy of the sadness will linger in the body and emerge in some other
form, usually as a physical pain or disease. Acknowledging the feelings of grief and allowing them to happen naturally is helpful.
Acupuncture treatments that are aimed at alleviating the effects of grief utilize lung points, and I tend to incorporate points that have a
calming effect, with some along the Heart channel. Points that tonify qi also help rebuilding stamina. Ear points can be soothing, especially if the grief was set
off by a traumatic event. Any other physical symptoms that present in conjunction (abdominal distension, insomnia, etc.) must be analyzed and addressed
as well. Shoring up the body during a phase like this is imperative. It’s important to note that the treatment does not make the emotions disappear- the
patient will continue to feel the sadness for the event or circumstance at hand, but the transition through the
grieving process becomes less entrenched in the body and the patient moves through it more smoothly and swiftly with less side effects. I have had many
patients tell me that they were able to “let go” faster than they expected during a period of grief due to acupuncture.